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tv   Tavis Smiley  PBS  October 20, 2014 11:30pm-12:01am EDT

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good evening from los angeles. i'm that vis smiley. tonight with gram my winner melissa ethridge about "this is me" an album she kals her most personal and uplifting over her 25-plus-year career. she's received 15 grammy nominations and an oscar for the song for "an inconvenient truth." she's known ujutk and closing out tonight with a performance off "a little bit of me." i'm glad you have joined us for the conversation with melissa ethridge coming up right thousand.r
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>> the california endowment, health happens in neighborhoodsx learn more. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. >> melissa ethridge has two grammys and a slew of
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nominations. she has five platinum albums and two gold records. perhaps most importantly she's a ten-year breast cancer survivor. her latest cd is "this is m.e." which she describes personal and uplifting. she'll close out the show with a performance of "little bit of me" off the new cd. m.e. it's always good to have you see me. >> i am so happy and good. >> i'm delighteded to have you here. put the cover of the cd up if youq[ñg,=u1 thank you. this is like an amalgam of -- how many -- what makes up this photo of you? >> we went out to social media. send your pictures in. if you are a fan, send in your pictures. thousands did. we got 900 of them. we had an artist put them together to create the photo of me. >> i get it.
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you wouldn't be you -- >> without your fans. >> this is me. >> it's cool. the website has an app that you can find yourself. >> i know the fans are loving that . >> that's a very cool concept.)c before i get too far let me say how grateful that you are still with us. >> as happy as i am, too. >> i figure you're happy. >> ten years ago this week. >> this happens to be october oh. pink ribbons and everything. >> everything pink comes out. breast cancer awareness. every october, i'm reminded, very aware. >> yeah. >> thatny it's about health. >> i feel happy and healthier than i have. after i went through cancer i understood it is about my health. those things are a priority nutrition, stress. the happiness, the joy is
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important. >> somebody said and they are right. life is best lived when -- i'm screwing it up. but life is best lived when you have had a near death experience. does that make sense? >> yes. i'm grateful. i would tell people i hope it doesn't take that to get you /x there. as the choice. it's a thought we can have about life and health and putting ourselves first. often times as partners or as parents. we are putting other people first, stressing ourselves, weakening our own health when taking care of ourselves. if each of us did it and we learned we can become strong and healthy. >> before i go into the project let me ask a strange and maybe off putting question. after 25 years of doing this you're not turned off by jpwz music business? i ask it against the backdrop of -- got your own record company, doing your own thing.
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you ain't sick of the business of it after 25 years? >> no, no. i feel like last year i made a choice to become a small business owner. >> mm-hmm. >> i made the choice to jump off the corporate big boats that are sinking fast. the model doesn't work. people were still listening to music. people come to see me live more than zppjever. what's changed is the way eithen receiving it. they don't have to go buy a certain record. the business of records, not so good anymore. what works is the artist. this is a renaissance for the artist. you can brand yourself. you can create and be what you want. that's what was exciting to me. i can now take ahold of this. >> the beauty is you can take hold of it and answer to me. >> i can only blame me.
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i'm responsible. >> anywhere you want to take it, this is me. i get the joy of oh it and having it be liberated. the freedom of that. i get it. what's the challenge to being in charge of your own brand? >> well, the first challenge is financial. you don't have the money up front. you had to create the album differently. much like an independent film. you give away more of the back end. you say, okay, you can have a certain percentage of the song. because you are involved in the creation of it. you get people that because of technology they had the little studios. they can make big huge sounds. and the music sven more>z vibra, i believe. because of this. it's sort of financially the hardest part. promotionally you don't have the money up front. >> until you turn the corner. >> we're working on it. >> we're all trying to turn the
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corner. >> aren't we? >> sounds like a great song title. >> turn the corner. >> speaking of sound tielts, tell me about the uh music. what are you fans going to hear? >> when they put it on heal hear the intensity they love from me. the lyrics are personal. intense, rock & roll. there is a lot of fun. it's been called lusty. there is a little bit of that. >> i like lusty. >> it's rock and roll. i have some hip-hop even. i worked with a hip-hop artist, rock star. there is r & b, country. it's me at the yummy center surrounded by a lot of stuff. >> i like that. the sumyummy center. i think i have always respected your sense of transparency. i know on this project ever more you are transparent. >> it's always worked in the 25
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years i have always madeim tha choice to not maybe do the comfortable thing0k but stand i my truth and be transparent, up front. it led me exactly where i'm supposed to go. i have no desire to stop now. i feel our society is just opening up to amazing things now. >> there are truths about your life, all of our lives. there are truths harder to handle than other truths about our own existence. how have you become comfortable to the extent you are being so transparent and being truthful, never mind what others think of your truth. >> there came a point in my life where i realized that what i felt about myself. the love or frustration. whatever i was feeling about myself was more important and
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more -- did more to my life than what other people thought of me. so if i could begin to guide my life with -- i call it the truth. thoseñx choices. it always -- always, never lets me down. it's the better thing. the moment might be uncomfortable and painful. yet you have to walk through it. whether it's the good stuff, the bad stuff, the tabloid stuff. whatever it is. if you don't speak your own truth then you'll be living someone else's. that's just strange, i think. >> how did you get to a place of oh not taking that stuff personally? >> i had to stop looking at it for a while. when you are a public figure, googling yourself can be really -- >> i never do. >> -- painful. >> i don't want to know.
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&e i had to stop for a while. you can't do that. you have your choice of people around. you know that you can't get everyone to understand your mind. we are all different. i don't understand theirs. they are not going to understand mine. this is a beautiful country that can hold those thoughts. >> let me go back to your sound. i referenced this earlier. for all of us who are fans of your music and particularly of your sound. it's such a bigness to your approach. the way you play, the way you move. the way you sound. has it always been that way? was there a time in your career where you were not so big -- the sound? i mean, a little more under stated? >> i have always been kind of big. yet i didn't understand that i was for a long time. >> you didn't get that? >> no. >> there is such intensity to your stuff. i love it. >> i don't know. i know when i was in grade
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school and would sing in the choirs they would put me in the back row because they didn't where to put me. they're like, your voice is strange. get back there. >> i literally just last night bñuiw$kñ is in the choir. i saw it last night. barney cannot sing. >> put him in the back. >> they are trying to figure out how to get rid of bar any in the choir. it's a funny episode. barney couldn't bring it. but you could sing but the sound was -- >> very different. yeah. >> how -- i guess i can ask this question of any artist. i talked to prince about how on his love songs, ballads he use it is upper register on the love songs. it works best for him and he thinks it's the best sound on the upper register for love songs, ballads. how does your song influence the music you write or -- does it
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make sense? >> totally. that's a musical question. i chose a long time -- when i started singing other people's music i always wanted to use just my chest voice. there is a head voice which is the really high voice. i don't use it except for just like at the end of a song, on a show just to go crazy or something. but mostly it's that power, the big -- i take it to that level. i also have a low voice. so it's that range i work in when i write and perform. it's just there are a couple little different -- i get out of my comfort zone on a couple of these. >> tell me. >> one is "do it again." i wrote it with jerry wanda of the fugees. and angela hunt whose gram my-award winning song writer did "empire state of mind" with alicia.. she and i were singing around.
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i don't usually collaborate with someone on melody. she went up to this -- ♪ oh, babe, it hurts ♪ . she says, that, i don't know if i can sing it. i tried and i hit it. it's a prt of my singing i don't use often. because it was someone else guiding me, i did it. i'm a little out of my zone on a couple of these. yet it makes for really good music. >> that's a good thing. have you noticed -- you were describing your voice a moment ago. can you tell, can you hear, has your voice changed over the 25 years? >> my voice has gotten healthier. >> right. >> i have noticed the change. i listened to the older records. there are different times in my life. different albums where i can hear the different health i had when i was still eating sugar. the healthier my body is, the
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healthier my voice is. it's like a muscle. like an athlete. >> that makes sense. >> absolutely. when my nutrition and general state of health, sleep. state of health, sleep. so i think this is the strongest that my voice has been is right here. >> what do you still get out -- we want to go back to the fans on the cover of the project. what do you get -- i know it's a pain to go through the process of being on the road. when you're on stage, what do you get out odc it? >> that's the dream i had when i was a child. first time i stood in front of somebody and sang and got the energetic response from ten people. to being able to play for thousands now. to being able to walk on stage and already the audience is going crazy. i haven't even done anything. that's an enormous anticipation
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of we are going to have such a great time. and then, presenting my songs, looking in the audience and seeing people relating to it. so that moment where i felt so alone and i'm writing because i was in pain or hoping or dreaming. that moment translates to another human bekzujy it's universal. i love that. i would love that. >> you have a beautifully rabid hard-core fan base. >> do not spell my name wrong. they will get you. >> i know that. i like the m. and e. i can do that part. the rabid, dedicated fan base. to what do you tribute that? >> i have been dedicated to my music in such a way that they kind of get it.
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they have related to the personal -- they have the song that means so much to them. the song that means aboutp that relationship or -- that's their song. people come up to me for all different reasons now. cancer, lgbt, anyone who is questioning life. if the music can move them, they jump right in. i'm very -- i'm available to my fans. i'm on social media. i like knowing exactly what they feel about the music. >> you mentioned social media. how important is it in advancing this phase of your life where you are producing, managing. your own record label. all of that. >> it's everything. it's what i'm relying on. it's the instant connection to the fans to tell them this is what i'm doing. i'm on your show this time. you can buy this. i will be in your time.
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i can go straight to them. it's the reason i don't need the middleman anymore. the middle entity. i can do it myself. social media has really changed that. >> you're 25 years in. you have a lot of time left in front of you. do you imagine you will be doing this until they throw dirt on you?yñ >> oh, heck yeah. there is no such thing as retiring. this is part of who i am. i love creating. i think we are beings put here to learn and create. i'm going to do it until they put dirt on me. >> how much will you be touring for this one? >> i start in november. we'll see. i'll go until they tell me it's time to come back. >> i'm always fascinated by these questions. i'm such a music lover. when you have a new project out, how do you balance or weave, you tell me, the new stuff in with
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the stuff nn they want to hear. if you don't sing -- and i say itd jokingly -- the window song >> people would say, where is the window song? i love singing my hits. i do. every show, you will hear at least -- and fortunately i have a few. >> you have a few of them. >> this tour, this album is so strong and the fans have been reacting so strongly:)his tour will be a good amount of new ones and the hits. that's what the show is going to b. >> i love it. it always challenges me to work )h'ew musi. i'm going to work with jerry wanda and the platinum sound. so it's a little bit hr of an r & b sound. i will move more in that direction. it's always been there. definitely you feel hear the
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hits and the rocking songs on this. >> two things you said i want to go back and get right quick. there are any number or artist who is do this. when an artist changes bands at a certain point in their career. whenever it might be and for whatever reason, why change bands at a certain point in your career? >> i have changed it up on the record. because i don't want to stay in one place. and i will tour with these guys. i still have the same drummer i have had for four years. we are definitely connected. to branch out where i want to go, i felt like i needed just different musicians. >> a different band helps you get a different sound. >> not so uh much a sound but a different feel. it's a collaborative effort up there. personalities and the way someone plays a song. whether they aren on top of the
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beat or whether they hang back makes a big difference. that will bring it out in me. i'm looking looking forward tot it. >> you said r & b has always been there. you can hear and feel we had one radio station. whb, a.m. station, played tammy wynett, led zeppelin. but then it would play marvin gaye and the supremes. motown was coming through big time. i didn't have the different boxes. everything was right there. i was nuts about michael jackson. all of that music. the temptations, everything, right there. so when the '70s came we had a rock and roll station. we had a crazy soul station that
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i would listen to. the commodores, ohio players, parliament funkadelic. all of that felt perfect to me. they want to put me into a box. i was like, okay. i'll get there. i'm going move more. >> free at last. i love hearing the term parliament funkadelic. coming out of melissa's mouth. >> bootsy. i love it. that was priceless right there. the m to the e is back. the new tr project "this is me" has good stuffä i think you will love it. good to have you on the program. i'm honored to have you come see us. we are delighted melissa will close with a performance, a song called "a little bit of me." i will say good-bye now and get out of the way. let melissa do her thing. thanks for watching. enjoy the performance. as always, keep the faith.y?ñ=
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♪ if you believed ♪ if you tried ♪ it could be enough to know you were alive ♪ ♪ if the you knew the truth ♪ it couldn't be denied ♪ it would change the world enough that you might find ♪ ♪ that theñr worldytv goes rou around and around ♪ ♪ everybody walks on common ground we got to pull together if we're gonna pull pull through ♪ ♪ a little bit of me in a little bit of you ♪ ♪ the world goes round and around and around ♪ ♪ everybody feels a little upside down ♪ ♪ no need to be afraid of anybody you see ♪ ♪ there's a little bit of you in a little bit of oh me ♪
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♪ na na na ♪ a little bit of me ♪ na na na ♪ ♪ is it on the skin ♪ is it in the love ♪ the things about each other that we're so scared of ♪ ♪ you can shake your head ♪ you can change your mind ♪ either way, you wake up inside yourself to find ♪ ♪ that the world goes round and around and around ♪ ♪ everybody walks on common ground ♪ ♪ we got to pull together if we're gonna pull through ♪ ♪ there's a little bit of me in a little bit of oh you ♪ ♪ the world goes round and around and around ♪ ♪ everybody feels a little upside down no need to be afraid of anybody you see ♪ ♪ there's a little bit of you in a little bit of me ♪ ♪ na na na
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♪ p in a little bit of]l me ♪ na na na ♪ oh ♪ lean to your left ♪ or lean to your right ♪ the corner of the room ♪ every soul here tonight ♪ have a little bit of faith ♪ everyone will see ♪ that all the good books in the world agree ♪ f you ♪ ♪ in a little bit of me ♪ ♪ and the world goes round and around and around ♪ ♪ and everybody walks on common ground ♪ ♪ no need to be afraid of anybody you$ñ see ♪ ♪ a little bit of you ♪ in a little bit of me ♪ na na na ♪ na na na ♪ in a little bit of me ♪ na na na ♪ just a little bit of me
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[ applause ] >> thank you so much. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. >> hi. i'm tavis smiley. join me next time with kristen stewart about "camp x-ray." that's next time. see you then. -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com
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>> the california endowment. health happens in neighborhoods. learn more. and by continue wuributions to s station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> rose: welcome to the programment tonight a conversation about the middle east with moshe ya'alon, israel's minister of defense. and we talk about israel, iran, the palestinians, isis and much more. >> this is a clash between civilizations. and actually islam in the history has declined. and you can see poverty exploited by their leaders. lack of relevant ideology like they adopted in the past like communism, or whatever. today islam, it seems to be the solution. this is the slogan. islam, this is the solution. and they know how to approach this frustrated people in their societies. to mobilize them,

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